Significance of a religious life.

In Vedās, a religious life is prescribed for all those who have :

a. Absence of Ātma Brahman Aikya jñanam.
b. Who have rāga-dveśa.

Absence of knowledge that the real nature of oneself- Ātma, is in fact, Brahman – the vast. Popularly referred to as Self-knowledge. The Self here is Ātma as oneself, and not the notion that I am an individual. This absence is referred to as Self-ignorance or simply ignorance. Ignorance is not referring to absence of any objective knowledge, like that of Physics, Economics etc. But it is stating the ignorance regarding Self-knowledge.

In the absence of Self -knowledge, the obvious outcome is “I am an individual”. And in such a notion of individuality, obvious is the presence of rāga-dveśa, likes and dislikes.

Man is afflicted by his Self ignorance primarily. It is the root cause of “ALL” the sorrows. Sprouting from it, man then gets afflicted by the likes-dislikes. In essence, the Vedās point out that a human being, irrespective of his gender, race, colour etc. spends away his life being constantly disturbed. Sorrow is encompassing all the felt disturbances.

But, an human being, again irrespective of his gender, race, colour etc. also has the equipped faculties, to gain this Self-knowledge. In the presence of which the root of Self -ignorance gets uprooted, there is then no locus for the individuality, and thus, no likes and dislikes get formed. The person of Self-knowledge, Such a human is referred to as “liberated”. Having fulfilled his human birth potential.

To uproot Self-ignorance, a lot of internal preparation is required. Just as to sow a seed, the soil is tilled; so too, for Self-knowledge, the human mind needs tilling.

This tilling is the job of a religious life.

Does every religion then take one to Self-knowledge?

No. Though ALL religions, when followed, cultivate the soil.

Vedic vision held the performance of the Vedic Karmas as religious. This was the karma-kanda, portion of Vedās detailing the knowledge regarding Karmas to be performed as per your notions of individuality. Abiding in the performance of the prescribed Karmās was being religious.

What was the advantage of this vision? The uniqueness of the vision of the Vedas? To the extent a person abided in his ordained karma, to that an extent indirectly his internal preparation took place. The source of sorrow coming from likes-dislikes got managed. And as one got prepared, the Vedās effortlessly revealed Ātma-jñana, through the Vedānta part, also called the Upanishads. Knowing which the final source of sorrow was destroyed. The one with Self-knowledge, now is the One. Where there is no sorrow. For sorrow to be, there has to be duality. But, for the Ātma-jñani, where is the other?

Thus, Vedic Karmās relevance as a religious life. And as with any knowledge, the chances of it being understood is relative, so too with Vedic knowledge. And the non-understanding leading to misunderstanding gets compounded when the knowledge is regarding the very Subject, the person, who has to re-know himself. This leads to layers and layers of deep-rooted superstitions, fanaticism, blind beliefs, rigid adherences, which more often destroy the very purpose of knowledge. And moreover, destroy the very potential of a human existence.

What is Sannyasa? (Renunciation)

What is Sannyasa? (Renunciation)

What is Saṁnyāsa ?

Desire to give up is as natural as desire to procure. They are both necessary aspects in determining the path of life experiences. Both are healthy desires. Both can prove beneficial or detrimental to survival as well as to the quality of living. The desire to procure can become detrimental when it exceeds a limit. Among the many ills, few are, it makes a person greedy, arrogant and insecure. Whereas the desire to give up, when it exceeds limits can prove dangerous as giving up one’s responsibilities and sometimes, even one’s life. On the other end of extreme, the desire to give up can also pave the path of absolute freedom. Mokṣa. This, the desire to procure can never bring. Mokṣa.

Saṁnyāsa is the healthy desire to give up which paves the path of Mokṣa.

Saṁnyāsa, its essential meaning is त्याग Tyāga. And Tyāga, the essential meaning is ‘To give up’. ‘To abandon’. ‘To leave’. But while Saṁnyāsa involves giving up, mere giving up is not Saṁnyāsa.

What is it that needs to be given up? To know this, we first recognise what is it to procure? What propels the desire to procure?

All procuring is prompted by an inner sense of unfulfillment. An inner sense of security, wanting to be loved, cared for. A felt incompleteness which drives one to seek a projected fulfilment. Upaniṣads call them एषणा eṣaṇa. All our material assets upto, all our relationships, are driven by the same sense of incompleteness. Brihadāranyaka Upaniṣad divides all our fundamental desires into three eṣaṇas. वित्तैषणा Vittaiṣaṇa, पुत्रैषणा Putraiṣaṇa & लोकैषणा Lokaiṣaṇa. They are representing Desire for wealth, Desire for a Son and Desire for a Heavenly life respectively. One desires some material possessions since they are necessary to expand a family. And son is expected to further the family and also grow it further, so son is desired. He is also expected to release his father from his debts, which ensure a heavenly life for the father. In these three fundamental desires, all the complex desires get included, for their ends would fall into one of these three. These remain the fundamental propellers for all forms of procurement. And the Upaniṣads further bring these down to अहंकार – ममकार संबन्ध ahaṃkara – mamakara. Relationships born of the notion “My Body” “I am an individual” one begins to own objects and also exert an authority of ownership on people. This brings relations like, “My family” “My husband” “My children” My house” “My car” “My table” My pen” “My bat” “My doll” Etc. Etc. As long as these remain in limits of universal laws, or even, and also legal laws, they give some happiness and fulfilment, limited and short-lived as they are.

But, when any of these procurements begins to be strenuous, riddled with pain and suffering, man wants to abandon the same. By such a giving up, the physical effort is given up. Even the mental chase of that particular may be given up. But the inner sense of unfulfillment, cannot be given up. It remains nudging inside. Due to this, man resumes to procure something else with a fresh hope, may be now, he gets the fulfilment, which will result in peace, mental relaxation and innermost happiness that will last his lifetime! Such a giving up in the first place, is called Rajasic Tyāga.

Sometimes one just gives up something or someone, without truly having understood the value of the object or the person. It is out of haughtiness or sheer lack of wisdom, or information. Many a times man gives up, only to regret later, when the value gets known. Such a giving up is called Tamasic Tyāga.

Both Rajasic and Tamasic Tyāga are not qualifying for Saṁnyāsa.

In the ahaṃkara-mamakara relationships and their strenuous nature to sustain them, possibly, some see, the futility and falseness of the assumed association, “that the method of procurement of objects and people, gives fulfilment.” It dawns upon them that it is a chase of 99. A spiral leading nowhere. It is simply wrong to assume that outward possessions or relations born due to “me being a body” can ever, can in fact NEVER bring inner fulfilment. They want to now instantly give up this life leading to procurements. They give up. All actions. All relations. All procuring habits. Such a giving up, is Sātvika Tyāga. An essential requirement for Saṁnyāsa. But, it still does not remove the inner felt unfulfillment.

Saṁnyāsa is of two essential kinds.

1.Ceasing activities that promote self procuring. And directing them towards means which help in discovering inner fulfilment. For facilitating this, one may take to the Saṁnyāsa Āśrama. The characteristic of Saṁnyāsa Āśrama is taking on certain vows, along with and including which are; काषायवस्त्र dressing one’s body in ochre coloured clothes, दण्ड carrying a stick, कमण्डलुआदि, a vessel for receiving food Anna Prasadam and मुण्ड shaving off the hair on the head. Without possessing anything, they choose to dwell modestly. This shift of āśrama without inner completeness yet, and for the sake of pursuing, discovering the inner completeness is called Vividiṣa Saṁnyāsa. Many kinds of saṁnyāsi fall in this category. It may be safe to presume the majority are such saṁnyāsi. They may pursue inner completeness through service, devotion or even austerities. But, they put little or no emphasis on ātma jñana as the primary and sole means of inner completeness.

Inner incompleteness is not a truth. It is a false belief. Man is inherently complete. He has to just discover it. And as with any belief, this too gets corrected with knowledge only. In this case, with self knowledge, ātma jñana, regarding one’s completeness.

Few take to vividiṣa saṁnyāsa for pursuing ātma jñana solely. To them, everything else is only incidentally relevant. All service, devotion, austerities will never occupy their life completely. They will spend their life seeking a Brahma Jñani ācharya, who would only be interested in dispersing the ātma jñana for the sake of the seeker. They will do the śāstra adhyayanam (indepth study of śāstra), will reflect, question, exert to understand the Mahāvākya, TAT TVAM ASI. All this, for liberation only. For in their minds they have well observed the endlessness of all other pursuits and the struggles and limitations. They are ready to give up everything for discovering the inner completeness.

Among all such, the One who rises enough in his inner pursuits to discover the Truth which ends all struggles and he is able to claim AHAM BRAHMĀSMI. He gains the Brahmānandam. The absolute, unbroken happiness.
2. There is another route to claiming Brahmāndam. Without taking vividiṣa saṁnyāsa. He remains with his life activities that he generated so far and begins the Tyāga of ahaṃkara-mamakara along with pursuing ātma jñana. This is Mānasa saṁnyāsa. Once his pursuit for the same culminates in discovering the Brahmānandam, he may then choose to give up all his possessions and relations. He has culminated his life journey. He may choose then to remain the rest of his life in his atmajñana. For this sole reason he may take to saṁnyāsa āśrama. It is then called Vidvat Saṁnyāsa. Or he may not take Saṁnyāsa at all and continue living among his life activities as a liberated one!

The following are also possible

3. When one takes to Saṁnyāsa Āśrama born from Rajasic Tyāga, it is referred to as Marakat Saṁnyāsa. Marakat means monkey. Such a person will keep wavering on his decision to have taken Saṁnyāsa.

4. There is a provision of an exception. Under a specific condition as an debilitating or a fatal disease, some wish to take Saṁnyāsa. It is taken almost at the dying moments. Such a Saṁnyāsa is called Ātura Saṁnyāsa.

For Mokṣa, ātma jñana is mandatory, and for ātma jñana, saṁnyāsa is essential. Whether vividiṣa or mānasa. But giving up the ahaṃkara-mamakara is what determines one is a saṁnyāsi or not.

In the world, many take to vividiṣa saṁnyāsa for the sake of filling their bellies and desires. A seeker should know, learn to differentiate and recognise the real from the fake!

In the Bhaja Govindam, verses attributed to Ādi Śaṅkarācharya, his student Padmapāda points out the foolishness of those who fake saṁnyāsa.

जटिलो मुण्डी लुञ्छितकेशः
काषायाम्बरबहुकृतवेषः ।
पश्यन्नपि च न पश्यति मूढो
ह्युदरनिमित्तं बहुकृतवेषः ॥ १४॥

There are many who go with matted locks, many who have clean
shaven heads, many whose hairs have been plucked out; some are
clothed in orange, yet others in various colours — all just for
a livelihood. Seeing truth revealed before them, still the foolish
ones see it not.

Whereas in the Bhagavad Gītā, Kṛṣṇa tells Arjuna in the

अनाश्रित: कर्मफलं कार्यं कर्म करोति य: ।
स सन्न्यासी च योगी च न निरग्निर्न चाक्रिय: ॥६.१॥

Anāśritaḥ karmaphalaṃ karyaṃ karma karoti yaḥ
Sa sannyāsī cha yogi cha na niragnirna chākriyaḥ |6.1|

श्रीभगवान् बोले-

जो पुरुष कर्म फल का आश्रय न लेकर, करने योग्य कर्म करता है,
वह सन्न्यासी तथा योगी है;
न केवल अग्नि का त्याग करने वाला और न क्रियाओं का त्याग करने वाला ।।1।।

Śri Bhagavān says –
The one who does what ought to be done, without depending on the results
Such a One is called a saṁnyāsī and He alone is the Yogī
Not the one who merely gives up physical worship, nor the one who gives up actions.

Arjuna wanted to take to Rajasic Tyāga, and Marakata saṁnyāsa, when he saw his close ones standing across him in war, ready to fight him. Overwhelmed, Arjuna collapsed in anxiety at the thought of loosing them all. And suddenly he began to talk all philosophical. “What is the use of war?” “Why should we be greedy?” “Better is a life of Bhikśa (another discipline of saṁnyāsa, where they request to be fed from the householders) than to kill one’s own for the sake of a piece of land?” Etc. Etc. He came up with many such seeming intelligent arguments. But Kṛṣṇa knew him well and also his inner maturity. He was not ready for giving up the ahaṃkara-mamakara. On the contrary he was suffering the attachments born of them. Thus, Kṛṣṇa gives Arjuna the above advice. That it was better for him to act as ought to be done and first begin by giving up his attachments to the outcomes of his actions. That itself will qualify him gradually into a full fledged saṁnyāsi, ready then for Mokṣa. This was the advice to begin Mānasa saṁnyāsa. He tells Arjuna to be a saṁnyāsī, to be a yogī. And by telling Arjuna, Kṛṣṇa is telling us all. To stop leading a deluded life and live a more deliberate and conscious life which raises one’s own being.

© Deepti Vishwanath
Mahā Shivarātrī

Praying for the ‘third eye’ to open. Wishing everyone a blessed  Mahā Shivarātrī. 🕉

Ultimate Love

Ultimate Love

The more I want to know,

the more I know;

it is not going to be easy to know you.

Your depths….

Your layers….

You’r a maze…

Truly amazes!

How will I unravel thy mystery?

You are the closest;

Seem the farthest.

You are ever there,

But, I never see you!

How will I know you?

You make everything known;

tell me, how will I know you?

Tell me, O ONE! THE ONE!

I want to know!


When I wake up,

You are here.

Before I woke up,


while I sleep,

I know you are there.

Never have you left me!

But, how are you there?

before I am awake?

What stuff are you made up of?

How are we related?

You don’t need me!

And I am not, without you!

Oh! how will I know you?


You, O Consciousness!

you are also known as ‘Awareness’

Reveal to me,

What are you and who am I?

Who are you and what is ‘I am’?


-Deepti Vishwanath